In 2017, International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) is celebrating the theme “love makes a family”. Today Sarah McGeehan shares her reflections on how her family relationships and life experiences have profoundly shaped the way she shows up at work as a leader.

I’m a step mum, which means when I got married 20 years ago, I had an instant family of three beautiful kids.

They’ve been in my life for a long time now and our middle son Jack is gay.

It was only during his coming out that I saw some of the discrimination he faced, which made me reflect on how tolerant I’d been when experiencing prejudice or discrimination in my own life.

When it came to issues around gender imbalance in the workplace, I’d always thought “I’m a woman in business – this is just how it is”. Or when I was working in another country I always thought “I’m a New Zealander trying to forge a career in the UK – this is just how it is”.

It was only when I spoke with my son about the discrimination he encountered during his coming out, that I realised I had absolutely no tolerance for that.

At this point in my life my thinking shifted entirely to, “I won’t sit by while you present less opportunities to my son than anyone else – that’s just not acceptable”.

And it’s this lived experience from my personal life that has shaped how I am in the workplace.

In a leadership position, I know I can make a difference. I want to be very visible about supporting equality for everyone, so I’m working to not only create a better working environment, but ensure I’m supporting people who don’t feel included at work.

Through my work with Telstra’s internal network for LGBT+ employees and allies – Spectrum – I’ve met people in our company I normally wouldn’t have met. It’s allowed me to learn more about our company and more about our people. As a leader, that’s an important part of what I should and can be doing.

Importantly, the Spectrum network is not just for people who identify as LGBT+. There are lived experiences my LGBT+ colleagues have that I never will.  But as an ally, I believe we all have a role to play to end homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

This year alone we’ve signed up 81 new Telstra leaders to our Executive Allies for LGBT+ Inclusion to our 1000+ strong Spectrum network, which shows our organisation’s growing commitment to embracing and respecting all forms of diversity.

Everyone wants to be accepted and belong.  I love my team and value the relationships I have with my workmates and the supportive environment I work in.

If I want this for myself, why would I want anything less for others?

I can –  we all can – do more to champion diversity and inclusion.

So, join me and ask yourself: what will you to do to stand up against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia?

Telstra’s committed to being inclusive at all levels of the company – and this is supported through our Values, Cultural Priorities and our Diversity & Inclusion and Discrimination & Bullying policies. Find out more.